“Supercop” is the latest of many nicknames given to Hammouchi by international media, as well as “the superagent who never sleeps.”
Rabat – The latest issue of the weekly magazine Jeune Afrique devoted its cover to the Director of the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) and the General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DGST), Abdellatif Hammouchi.
The feature story describes a day in the life of “King Mohammed VI’s supercop.” Hammouchi reportedly starts his day at headquarters of the DGSN, in downtown Rabat. He spends half his day there, before heading to his second responsibility at the DGST headquarters in Temara.
“The most senior police officer of the kingdom is also the most senior intelligence agent. An unprecedented number of positions entrusted to one person that speaks volumes about the trust placed in him by King Mohammed VI,” Abdelhak El Khiame, the Head of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), told Jeune Afrique.
“This is a model that has undeniably proved its worth and is envied by other countries,” he added. “Having a single decision-maker at the head of these two strategic branches opens the bridges of collaboration.”
Jeune Afrique’s feature is a rare insight into the life of a man who is usually very private. Hammouchi has never given an interview and rarely receives journalists. In contrast, Jeune Afrique’s feature points out, the Director tries to ensure the DGSN is more transparent than ever.
“With Hammouchi, our motto is to hide nothing from public opinion except what is prohibited by law, whereas before we only communicated the strict minimum of what the law provides,” explained Boubker Sabik.
Hammouchi’s career with the DGST began almost three decades ago in 1991. Those who have worked with him describe him as “gifted” with incredible analytical skills, with a particular focus on Morocco’s jihadist groups, that propelled his rise through Morocco’s security ranks according to Jeune Afrique.
“He is unbeatable on terrorist networks. He is always able to quote you, from memory, the names of the members of a cell, to trace their course and their relations with other groups fighters,” a former employee of the Interior Ministry told the weekly publication.
His skills are so impressive, that America’s CIA reportedly tried to poach the gifted “supercop.” George Tenet, the director of the US’s renowned intelligence agency from 1997-2004, allegedly offered Hammouchi US citizenship and a high position in Washington at one point.
Hammouchi, however, refused the prestigious offer, saying “Moroccan I was born, Moroccan I will stay, and Moroccan I will die,” according to Jeune Afrique.
His loyalty to his country paid off. When he was made the director of the DGST in 2005, at just 39 years old, he not only became the youngest intelligence head that Morocco has ever known, but also earned a place among the youngest intelligence heads in the world.
While Hammouchi has been widely credited for the reform and incredible effectiveness of both the DGST and DGSN, he has also been subject to criticism. In February 2014, France accused the widely respected intelligence officer of “complicity in torture” for his alleged involvement in the torture of activist Ennaama Asfari.
French police officers went as far as delivering a summon of Hammouchi to the Moroccan Ambassador in France’s residence. The accusations caused a diplomatic rift between the two allied countries, and Morocco briefly suspended all judicial cooperation with France.
The accusations caused such offense that protests broke out in front of the French Embassy in Rabat and French President at the time, Francois Hollande, had to call King Mohammed VI in attempt to repair the situation. Holland insisted he was unaware of the police summons against Hammouchi.
Just a year later, France had changed its tune regarding Hammouchi. After Moroccan intelligence revealed the location of Abdelhamid Abaaoud and his accomplices, the terrorist mastermind the November 2015 Paris attacks, Patrick Calvar, the head of the Directorate General of Internal Security told Hammouchi he had “saved France.”
Jeune Afrique’s feature on Hammouchi is the latest of many glowing profiles in international media of the security powerhouse. In April, Jeune Afrique also labeled him a “terrorists’ worst nightmare.”
“If Morocco features today at the forefront in terms of anti-terrorism, it owes it in large measure to his incomparable knowledge of the Islamist network,” Jeune Afrique’s April article on Hammouchi added.
In July 2018, the Italian daily newspaper II Post dubbed Hammouchi a “the superagent who never sleeps,” describing him as “powerful, respected, and controversial,” almost like “a movie character.”
That same month, Spanish outlet El Pais also paid tribute to the “superagent,” saying that the “security of Europe is linked to cooperation with [him].”